4 trends impacting dentistry today

Jan. 29, 2024
The lines between oral and systemic health are blurring even further with these adjuncts that support patient health: hyperbaric oxygen therapy, red light therapy, virtual reality/music therapy, and probiotics.

Dental care continues to advance in the areas of oral-systemic health and technology, all benefitting patients by making dental treatment more comfortable and effective. The lines between systemic health and oral health are blurring even further with new adjuncts available to support patient health.

In these articles, Dr. Scott Froum looks at several such treatments dental practices can use right now: hyperbaric oxygen therapy, red/infrared light therapy, virtual reality/music therapy, and probiotics.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) delivers pure oxygen to the body. It can be used to accelerate the healing process and fight infections, reduce inflammation, and promote new vascular growth. Since HBOT stimulates soft-tissue wound healing and is antibacterial, it has been proposed to help with medically related osteonecrosis of the jaw.

Red light therapy

Red light therapy (RLT) exposes the body to specific wavelengths of light energy to stimulate major healing processes and has gained popularity for its use in periodontal, endodontic, and oral ulcerative therapies. RLT has been used to treat children with chronic gingivitis and improve clinical outcomes, and it has also been used in conjunction with scaling and root planing to treat severe periodontitis. Due to its antibacterial properties, RLT can improve outcomes with root canal therapy and decrease pain from treatment. RLT expedites wound healing, decreases denture stomatitis and angular cheilitis, and is a treatment for oral mucositis, dry mouth, and burning mouth syndrome.

Music therapy and VR

Treating dental anxiety and pain during surgical procedures can help decrease stress in dental patients so that treatment can be more effective. Studies have shown that music therapy and virtual reality (VR)—two easy-to-implement psychological interventions—significantly lower perioperative pain and anxiety during third-molar extraction.

Probiotics

The oral microbiome is directly related to oral health, and the oral-gut microbial connection has been established as an important factor in warding off inflammation related to oral diseases. Probiotics are a vital part of restoring and maintaining healthy gut flora, but their improper use or overuse can negatively affect systemic health. Determining the proper probiotic for your dental patient becomes ever more important in promoting systemic health.